On Your Health

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What You Should Know About Pacifiers and Breastfeeding Newborns

Most babies are hardwired to suck. The sucking reflex is so strong some babies begin sucking their fingers while they’re still in the womb. Sucking has a soothing, calming effect beyond just providing nutrition to a baby, so many mothers rely on pacifiers to help their babies suck. But are pacifiers really OK for your newborn?

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding pacifiers for the first four weeks of life, until breastfeeding is well-established. Why?

  • Pacifiers may mask feeding cues or signs of hunger.
  • Pacifiers may reduce the number of feedings at the breast, which may delay or decrease a mother’s milk supply.
  • Babies position their mouths and tongues differently on the breast than on the pacifier. This may lead to breastfeeding problems, painful latches and damage to a mother’s nipples.
  • The infant may stop breastfeeding.

Instead of soothing a baby with a pacifier, here are other ways to calm a baby.

  • Resting skin to skin with mom or dad.
  • Allow baby to suck on your clean finger.
  • Talk, sing or shush to calm your baby.
  • Play soft music or provide white noise.
  • Giving a gentle massage may help calm your baby.

Also, be sure to check if a crying baby is hungry or needs to be burped, and make sure the baby’s diaper is not wet or dirty. It is not unusual for newborns to cry one to three hours every day for the first few months.

For more ways to soothe your crying newborn, check out these tips from Parents Magazine.

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